There’s no place like home…unless you can’t stand where you’re stationed. There are numerous reasons why “bloom where you’re planted” can sound a bit idealistic at times. Perhaps you’re in the middle of nowhere, in a climate that doesn’t agree with you, in a country where English isn’t the primary language, you can’t find a job, or worse — you can’t find your tribe.
Whether it was the first or the last duty station on your dream sheet, the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t agree with you. You wait for the day that this time finally passes and new orders are cut.
This situation makes for a rough two, three (or even more) years, and something has to be done. You refuse to roll over and be miserable and just sit around waiting, but what is a frustrated milspouse to do?
10 Ways to Beat the Duty Station Blues
Take action, control what you can, and employ these tips to help make your station go from “meh” to “yeah!”
- Give it some time. Once you’ve unpacked, settled in, and gotten to know your way around, sometimes you preemptively decide you aren’t going to like the place. It’s all too easy to feel homesick for your hometown or your favorite duty station. Try not to compare every step of the way, and give the people, the weather, the sights, and surroundings time to grow on you.
- Get involved. Join online groups for your new area to learn the ropes, ask questions, learn what’s available and make new connections. You may find new mom groups, a book club, or a collective of spouses who get together and work out on a regular basis. Staying isolated in your home will only make you feel more lonesome.
- Get attached to places. You may not love your house, or your base, but see what’s in the surrounding area. Do you have a great mall nearby, a favorite coffeehouse, a museum, an incredible restaurant, a dive bar or even a state park? Get to know your surroundings and be determined to find someplace you love.
- Practice self-care. The stress of moving can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t thrilled with the new destination. While you’re figuring out where everything is, finding new doctors, setting the kids up in school, etc., don’t forget to breathe, exercise, rest and stay hydrated. Set alarms on your phone to drink water and get up and move — and don’t forget that music is a great remedy for the sad soul.
- Work on a goal. If your post still isn’t a love match, why not use these years to accomplish something for yourself? Learn a new language, enroll in online courses, launch your business, write that book or reach your fitness goals. Chances are if you feel better about yourself, you’ll feel better about where you live. And by the time you get those next orders, you’ll have achieved new levels of success.
- Stay in touch. Just because you are away from family in your hometown and friends at your last duty station doesn’t mean you can’t connect. Technology is a wonderful tool to send regular messages, make calls and have video chats. Who knows, you may have a friend in the same boat who needs to talk just as much as you do.
- Reinvent yourself. Now is a perfect time for a fresh start and to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to get a new haircut or color (after finding a great stylist from an online spouse’s group, of course). Try a new hobby like cycling, start working on your photography, or make it a goal to smile and talk to strangers around post, at the bus stop or on the playground. What are you afraid of? This is a proactive measure to feel confident and find your next tribe.
- Know that you may fall, but get back up again. If you’re reading this and say “I’ve already tried all this,” it’s okay. Allow yourself time to be sad about it, have a good vent session, cry, watch your favorite movie, or even enjoy a glass of wine. After you’ve allowed yourself to get the feelings out, jump back in and got at it again. Stay positive and determined.
- Save money and use Space A to get out of town. If all else fails and you still have wanderlust for another place, make it a goal to have something to look forward to. Start prioritizing your earnings and spending, and put money aside to visit friends (you can meet in the middle or at your old post), or head to your hometown. To look into free flights, get familiar with Space Available travel: http://spacea.net/.
- Give yourself a reason to miss this place, and go all in. Lastly, operate on a belief that failure isn’t an option. Don’t let this location win. Don’t let it cause you to feel miserable for years of your life. Find something, someone to become attached to that you will eventually look back on and say, “Wow I miss it ___ at Fort ____.” You are in control — you got this!
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